Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

There is a very thin line between certain everyday behaviors and criminal harassment. This makes it very confusing for people accused of harassment in Denver. And if one is convicted for harassment, the penalties can be quite severe.

These punitive consequences are often avoidable if you can argue and convince the court that what you did does not meet the criminal definition of the offense. It is never that easy, but with the representation of a Denver criminal defense attorney, you are assured of the best possible outcome.

What Needs Proof for One to be Penalized for Harassment?

You cannot be convicted for harassment in Denver unless your actions meet the two main elements of the crime. The first is having the intention to alarm, annoy, or harass the accuser. The second one focuses on your actions – doing one of the following:

  • Making threatening or obscene comments over the internet or the phone (cyber-bullying)
  • Repeatedly taunting someone in a way that is likely to provoke an unlawful response (fighting words)
  • Invading someone’s privacy by repeatedly initiating conversations at inconvenient hours. It could be via electronic email, a computer system, a computer network, over the phone, or in-person
  • Calling someone repeatedly and not making a legitimate conversation
  • Following someone in a public place
  • Publicly making obscene remarks or gestures to someone (offensive description of sexual acts, e.g., cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus)
  • Kicking, shoving, striking, or subjecting someone to physical contact

If you feel like your actions and intentions were contrary to this definition, you can easily fight the charges and avoid facing harassment penalties in Colorado. A Denver harassment attorney can represent you in court and help you get a “not guilty” or “acquitted” verdict.

What is the Punishment of Harassment in Colorado?

All forms of harassment in Denver are considered misdemeanors. The specifics of the crime are what determines the class of misdemeanor that you will be punished for. Discriminatory-based harassment is very serious and involves harassing someone for their perceived:

  • Mental disability,
  • Physical disability,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • National origin,
  • Ancestry,
  • Religion,
  • Color, or
  • Race

Charges of this nature are classified under Class 1 misdemeanor and are punishable with:

  • Between $500 and $5,000 in fines
  • Between 6 and 18 months in jail
  • Restraining orders against you

Non-discriminatory forms of harassment are a little less punitive and fall under Class 3 misdemeanor. Its punishment includes:

  • Between $50 and $750
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Probation
  • Restraining orders

If the victim sustained bodily injuries or their property got damaged in the incident, they can bring more lawsuits against you. You might have to pay them to replace or repair the property, and even cover their hospital bills and other costs related to the injuries. If they get protective orders against you, violating them is considered a serious crime.

These consequences are life-changing, whether it’s 6 or 18 months of your life away from your family and the people you love. Luckily, this is avoidable with the skilled defense of a Denver harassment attorney.

How Can One Defend Themselves and Avoid Harassment Penalties?

Harassment covers a multitude of crimes, and the most strategic defense will depend on the specific crime you have been charged with. But the most common defenses include:

  • The victim had no reasonable privacy expectations.
  • You did not threaten or touch anyone.
  • The victim misidentified you as the real harasser.
  • You were falsely accused
  • You had no intent to alarm, annoy, or harass anyone.
  • The harassment wasn’t compelled by the person’s protected class, i.e., color, creed, or race.
  • You called the alleged victim during reasonable ‘timing,’ e.g., during business hours, knowing they were awake.
  • Your communication or discussion wasn’t obscene.
  • Your actions were out of fear or anger
  • The communication you initiated was constitutionally protected

Another controversial defense is seeking the protection of the First Amendment. But remember that your free speech is only protected when you are making consumer complaints or protesting. So, this freedom can be challenged if the communication is unwanted or offensive, and the victim cannot ignore it.

Notably, most harassment cases don’t make it to trial. It only takes a Denver harassment attorney to convince the DA that the case is weak. The chances are that the prosecution will see it fit to drop the charges or reduce it to something more appropriate and less punitive.

Is a Harassment Record Sealable in Colorado?

Convicts of harassment in Colorado can seal their records but only after the waiting period lapses. Sealing a Class 3 misdemeanor is possible two years after the case is finalized. On the other hand, convicts of Class 1 misdemeanor have to wait for three years to begin the sealing process.

Even if your criminal defense attorney fought hard enough to have your case dropped or to get you a “not guilty” verdict, the charge might still reflect on your criminal record. But the good news is that sealing such a record has no waiting period, and you can seal it immediately.

It might take you some weeks to complete the sealing process in Colorado. So, it is advisable to begin early and get it done the soonest as possible. Remember that sealed records improve your employment prospects. If you need help on how to go about it, an experienced attorney can guide you appropriately.

Protect Your Rights With A Skilled Criminal Defense Professional

We’ve seen innocent people get pronounced “guilty” in such cases because of facts purposely left out in trial, errors in the trial, or other procedural flaws. Sometimes, however, the best way to achieve the best possible outcome could be taking a bargain plea, going to trial, or negotiating for reduced charges.

You need an attorney that can take your case to the Appellate Court and fight for a favorable outcome. You need a criminal defense attorney who will challenge the prosecutor’s story and without leaving anything to chance.

Call us today at 303-996-8998 to book a FREE case evaluation with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Denver, CO.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.